FOCUS ON ADVOCACY: Join The SupportMusic Coalition – It’s Good for Business, Builds Community and Helps Protect School Music Programs for Students!

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It’s November and for those of us involved in the education world that generally means a huge sigh of relief. We’ve all made it through another “back to school” season. Back to school time is not just a busy time for teachers, students and parents, but also for those of us on the business side of things who serve education in our businesses.

The end of another back to school season allows all of us the time to reflect on the past few months and see how we can build on them. One of the ways businesses in the school music world can do that - increase their business and do some greater good for the benefit of music education - is to become an active member of the SupportMusic Coalition. My business became affiliated with the Coalition about five years ago, and we’ve found it to be an invaluable resource.

Why Affiliate?

First of all, as a business in the music industry, affiliation shows your support of the bigger picture. It shows that you and your business truly stand behind the work of your industry and the work of your customers.

Beyond that, it’s a chance for your business to be a part of a well-known, national effort. Your support lends credibility to all of the advocacy and information efforts of the SupportMusic Coalition, and at the same time, the credibility of the Coalition is shared with your business as part of this national effort.

Though an affiliation with the SupportMusic Coalition, your business will gain tremendous insight and perspective into the world of music education. That knowledge will not only help your business, but it will also serve as an asset as you share that information with your customers. Affiliation is just another way to show your customers that you support their work and their passion – music.

How To Affiliate

It could not be easier to become a member of the SupportMusic Coalition. Simply send an email to You will receive all of the information you need to officially affiliate. It’s a quick process consisting of filling out one very short form. After that, your website will be linked from, and you can link your website to

What To Do With Your Affiliation

Your participation in the Coalition can be as involved as you want it to be. Here are a few suggestions about how you can use your affiliation to add value to your business:

  1. Increase your knowledge base online. Just spending some time at will allow you to be well versed in the latest news, data, research and trends in music education and music education advocacy.
  2. Increase your knowledge base through networking. The Coalition is full of like-minded advocates willing to share their knowledge and experience.
  3. Increase your knowledge through participation. Monthly conference calls are held to share news, experiences and updates from members of the Coalition. All members are encouraged to share their own news and success stories. That includes things you are doing in your business to advocate for music education. Conference calls are archived on, so you always have the ability to return to them to re-visit ideas your may have heard or to listen to the calls for the first time if your schedule didn’t permit during the live call.
  4. Promote your affiliation. As a business in the music industry, you’re probably always running some type of event, advertising or using social media. Your affiliation now opens up a whole new area to promote. You can find ways to tie business events into your advocacy work. If you rent instruments, you will be able to show parents and teachers that you truly stand behind the value of music education as your promote along with your brand. You can provide PSA type ads for concert programs and local events in your community. Some of those PSAs are even available on You can include branding in social media, advertising and promotional materials. You’re not only promoting the value of music education, but you are also continuing to show your customers that you truly stand behind the importance of music education for all children.
  5. Network in your community. Your affiliation allows you to carry forward an advocacy message from your business. Talk to members of your community and others in the business world. Odds are they have some experience with music at some point in their life or know someone who did. They may even hire music students for summer jobs because they know they’re reliable. Who knows what great stories you might find out. You can then bring these stories back and use them in your own messaging and share them with the other members of the Coalition.

Your participation can be as involved as you, or someone on your staff, has time for. Like anything, I think you’ll find that the more you put into it, the more rewards you will get out of it.

To get started, all it takes is a simple email to It may be one of the smartest and easiest decisions you can make for your business.

-- Mark Despotakis is the Director of Market Development at Progressive Music located just outside of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and is a member of the SupportMusic Coalition Steering Committee.